Justices Search for Limit on Federal Power in Health Care Case

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As bullhorns and microphones blare from protesters in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, it is silence from the “conservative” wing of the court that makes the most noise during arguments over the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's “individual mandate.” After peppering the government's attorney with questions for an hour, the four conservative justices—not counting Justice Clarence Thomas, who has not spoken during an argument since 2006—generally retreat and leave their colleagues to probe the arguments made by the attorneys for 26 states and several private parties challenging PPACA's requirement that almost all citizens purchase private health insurance. The lopsided questioning suggests more support for the challenger's arguments than many predicted, as well as some hostility to the government's position.